and my photos over the last 11 months
as seen in Adobe Lightroom 4.0's new Map Module
It's not a free upgrade, but with the price now cut in half (upgrades are now $80), it's an easy decision.* There's a lot new if you're coming from Lr3, the most important likely being the new rendering engine. Laura Shoe has a post and video about what's new here, and Victoria Bampton's always exhaustive “what's new” list is here.
* At just $80 for the upgrade, even from Lr1, it's an easy decision, but Adobe usually comps me a free copy, which is very nice, so if that holds true again, I won't even have to make that simple decision. 🙂
Lr4 and My Plugins
The biggest change for all my Lightroom plugins is mostly under the hood, so you'll need new versions. Visit the plugin manager and “check for updates”. It's probably best to do this Lr3 before upgrading because the old versions might not even load in Lr4. (If you need to upgrade after, you can always do a manual upgrade by downloading the latest version of the plugin from the plugin's home page, unzipping, and replacing the old copy with the new.)
One big thing you'll notice is that plugins that had been registered in Lr2 or Lr3 are now no longer registered, an unfortunate side effect of how I designed my plugin registration system some years ago. If you want them to be registered, you'll have to register them again sometime in the next six weeks or so, though as before, you can do so with just 1 cent. Sorry for the hassles.
My Geoencoding Plugin
If you've been using my Geoencoding plugin, you'll be excited about the new Map Module in Lr4. The first time you bring up Lr4 with a recent version of the plugin, all the plugin's location data (its “shadow data”) is migrated over to Lr4's native data.
Personally, I've found that the Map Module is great for manual geoencoding, for browsing, and for searching, but I still prefer my plugin to geoencode from a tracklog. I find Lr's tracklog geoencoding difficult to understand, and it bothers me that it doesn't handle altitude. My plugin does.
The plugin also includes a bunch of stuff that'll be useful regardless of how photos get encoded, such as the ability to view mapped locations in a variety of online mapping services, or in Google Earth.
Upgrade Process: Have Patience
Especially if you have a large corpus of geoencoded photos, the first thing you'll want to is jump into the map module to play, and in this you will be greatly disappointed because Lightroom apparently has to do a lot of processing under the hood before it's ready.
When I upgraded my main catalog on my desktop machine (92,000 photos dating until last April when I switched to my laptop), I switched to the Map Module and got a spinning beach-ball for five solid minutes. Switching back to Library again beach-balled for a few minutes. But the biggest shock was checking the geoencoded photos: there should have been 50,000 or so, but Lightroom told me there were only 28,000:
I can now see at a glance that I geoencoded 14 photos incorrectly
Apparently, Lightroom needs to do something with each image under the hood before the transition from old plugin data to native Lightroom support takes effect in the Map Module and in the Library Grid Filter, and it's very slow. We're talking hours to handle the 22,000 photos that had been geoencoded with my plugin. It's not fun to wait, but even worse, Lightroom gives you no indication that it's still working and that the data it shows you is incomplete.
So, it's probably best at some point to open the Library Grid to “All Photographs”, select “GPS Data” in the metadata filter, and walk away to let Lightroom grind for a while.
Color Label Set
One more warning: if you use a custom Color Label Set (“Metadata > Color Label Set” is anything other than “Lightroom Default”), you may be very surprised to find that after the upgrade to Lr4 it has been reset to “Lightroom Default”. This can be a fairly major problem because when you assign color labels, you're actually assigning the label and not the color, and if the label set has been changed out from under you, you'll unknowingly be applying the wrong label.
So, be sure to check your color label set.
Plugin Support for Lightroom 2
Most of my plugins still work in Lightroom 2, but with the aggressive price lowering in Lr4, I expect most people who are still running Lr2 to move over, so going forward, I don't expect to put much more energy to continue to support Lr2 in my plugins.